Tips for Common Sense Interviewing Questions

I have heard my share of interesting interview questions. They run the gamut from the cultural “what
kind of tree are you?” to the analytical “how many gas stations are in New Jersey?” I am sure these questions are asked with the best of intentions, however they do not deliver the intended result. Even the famous “Google Blender Question” turned out to be ineffective in assessing talent. So what are the best questions?

  • Good questions come from answers. The most effective interviewers are great listeners who can think of good questions as the candidate’s story unfolds. Like a salesman who builds rapport through the conversation, a good interviewer walks between assessing the candidate and attracting them to their organization. Good questions give a deeper understanding of the candidate’s situation. They can reveal a hidden project that has huge relevance for the position that would have gone unnoticed had the question not gone to that depth.
  • Good questions are relevant. Ask real-world questions from actual situations that have occurred. Prompt the candidate to provide greater detail regarding how they came up with their answer. Ask for explanations, especially if you do not agree with where they are going.
  • Good questions are honest. I am not a fan of trick questions, especially when combined with assumptive interpretation of the answers. They are usually grounded in unfavorable bias and typically come from inexperienced interviewers. As the Google article mentions above, their finding was the “trick” questions only served to make the interviewer feel smart. But a difficult, brutally-honest question – now I am all for that.

Getting a read on a candidate’s skill and cultural fit is only part of the interview process. You are also making your organization’s first impression. Is that candidate going to feel comfortable with you and give honest answers or will you get the typically canned answers to your canned questions. If you want “game changing” results, then simply don’t play games.

Bobby Whitehouse

Photo courtesy of redjar